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|Paperback, May 6 1999||
Readers of the bestseller Birdsong may hope that Faulks's third novel will furnish another mesmerizing narrative with a piercing love story and the kinds of details that vitalized his descriptions of life in the trenches during WWII. Although this novel does not, sadly, equal its predecessor in terms of seductive readability, its setting in occupied France during WWII and its depiction of the sentiments that motivated many Frenchmen to identify emotionally with the Germans rather than their longtime foe, Britain, grants the story intrinsic interest. But Faulks falters when he asks us to believe that pragmatic young Scotswoman Charlotte Gray is so transformed by her love for RAF airman Peter Gregory that she determines to parachute into France to find him after he disappears on a mission somewhere in the Free Zone. Disguising her motivation, she volunteers for the government's secret G-Section, where her uncanny talent for memorizing documents, her nerves of steel and her equanimity when parachuting into Occupied France after scant training may leave readers incredulous. Even more problematic is Charlotte's sense of transcendent mission, her mystical feeling, stressed again and again, that she has received "a call" to find Peter, and that her work for the Resistance is a "compelling urgency of personal and moral force" that will "change my life.. save my soul... and save [France's] soul as well." In evoking the mood and atmosphere of 1942-1943 France, however, Faulks provides the nuanced detail that invests the novel with authenticity, irony and pathos. Charlotte's dangerous maneuvers as she meets Resistance members and integrates herself into the village of Lavaurette, and the alternating chapters that reveal Peter's predicament, are genuinely absorbing. When Faulks introduces two small Jewish boys who are left behind in the village when their parents are deported, their heartrending situation adds tension. Yet Faulks undermines these effective scenes with a plot device that fizzles: veiled hints about Charlotte's "betrayal and violation" by her father when she was a child. Despite the psychological inconsistencies, however, in the end, it is the convincing settings?the wartime London singles scene, the old boy spy network, and daily life in an ideologically and politically divided France?that shape dramatic immediacy.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Shortly after the death of a surrogate father figure in a French internment camp in occupied France, Charlotte notes "that her emotions could not encompass the complexity of feeling that the circumstances seemed to demand." It is a comment that can be applied to the book itself. As a story about the power of love, it uplifts the spirit. As a story of the dispassionate evil of the Nazis, it brings tears to the eyes. As a story about ordinary people struggling to survive, it arouses admiration, understanding, and revulsion. Charlotte is a young Scotswoman who travels to London and falls for an RAF pilot. When he crashes in France, Charlotte wrangles her way into the British secret service in order to find him. If the scenario seems a bit overwrought, it is. But then new love often is. Faulks (Birdsong, LJ 1/96) has written one of those rare books that is adventurous enough to attract a popular audience while thoughtful enough to sustain the more serious reader. Highly recommended.
-?David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, FL
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
I bought this book after reading Birdsong, and I was disappointed. Maybe I wasn't in the mood for this book, but I like novels that describes the action of war.Published 4 months ago by Kristina
I read Birdsong and enjoyed it. I bought Charlotte Grey hoping for more of the same but was dissapointed. After reading it I was left thinking "what was it all about" ? Read morePublished on Oct. 21 2001 by Stephen Blakeman
I thought this book was so good at the begining and enjoyed the first few chapters but then what happened????? Read morePublished on Aug. 21 2001
....This bestseller (why?!) reads like a male fantasy as the woman lives, and will happily die, for a man that she doesn't really know. Read morePublished on May 25 2001 by Susan S. Potter
i am astounded by the reviews that i've seen here. i have not picked up a more woodenly characterized, pretentiously written novel in years. Read morePublished on March 1 2001
Shortly after finishing Charlotte Gray, I saw a BBC programme describing the work of English spies and operatives in France during WWII. Read morePublished on Sept. 25 2000
Although this book is not as passionate as Birdsong, and is certainly no war thriller, Faulkes nonetheless brings over very successfully the sinister reality of life in occupied... Read morePublished on July 25 2000 by Alan Martin